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Simon Jones steps up to the challenge, and Andrew Strauss finds some runs at last
August 14, 2005
Simon Jones has often been relegated as the last option in Michael Vaughan's bowling attack, but on the fourth day at Old Trafford, Jones put forward an emphatic case for a promotion. At Lord's he was let down badly by his fielders, but here the catches were all taken, and the result was career-best return of 6 for 53, and his first five-for in England.
Jones's ability to produce wicket-taking deliveries has never been in doubt, but he has often spoiled the case for himself by bowling too many four-balls. Here, his control was outstanding: 72 of his 110 deliveries landed either on a good length or back of a length, and those balls only cost him 16. The spell here also improved his career strike-rate to 49.3 balls per wicket - that's better than the likes of Glenn McGrath, Richard Hadlee and Michael Holding. Steve Harmison, the leading bowler of the current pack, only gets a wicket every 54 balls. Jones's performance here should surely force Vaughan to toss the ball to him more often in future.
Meanwhile, Andrew Strauss redeemed himself after a lean trot with the bat. His century was admittedly scored when Australia were mostly on the defensive, but Strauss played his role well, getting his runs at a fair clip. His wagon-wheel shows that he hardly got any runs down the wicket, and was prolific in the third-man region and in the arc between midwicket and backward square leg. That was largely the result of how the Australians bowled to him: the seamers pitched it short - 65 out of the 86 deliveries bowled to him by Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee were either back of a length or short, and Strauss tackled them well, scoring 51 off those balls, mostly through cuts and pulls. His innings ensured that England didn't collapse in their quest for quick runs, and were able to set Australia a challenge that should test their skills on the final day.
What's wrong with their cricket? Well, what isn't?